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Miami City Ballet: "Our Show"

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Hey, hey...what such fun nights did these great troupe gave us over the weekend! I went last night, and Eddie's kids were all over the stage having a great time, transmitting the audience pure pleasure with their contagious energy. I should share my grateful feelings about the performance, related to the fact that i went with the crankiest mood after a not very pleasant long working day and i sure left the studios with a smiling face. They made my day, and i sure appreciate it A LOT.

The performance started with "All Part of the Camping Trip"-(Stephen Satterfield/Infected Mushroom), a modern creation-(not my strongest/favorite field, so i really can't be that detailed or informative about it and the like, so please forgive my narrow-by-choice knowledge spectrum.. :dunno: ). Still, there are two things i want to mention about this ballet. First: Daniel Baker showed-(besides a beautiful line, as he was shirtless the whole time)-great partnering skills. I've noticed it before, and i think that this is a quality that even some great stars lack very often. Second: The subtle lesbian atmosphere of the ballet's pseudo-plot, very well recreated by Elizabeth Keller and Kristin D'Addario-(beautiful long legged dancer!). Also dancing this piece were Callie Manning, Leigh-Ann Esty, Jennifer Lauren, Sara Esty, Cindy Huang, Bradley Dumlap, Chaz Meszaros, Peter Doll and Michael Breeden. After that i had my night's blast, personified by Haiyan Wu and Yang Zou in the "White Swan PDD"(Tchaikovsky/Petipa). Oh, this adorable couple danced it absolutely beautifully!. Their interpretation was that of pure lyricism, and they sure stole the show, as the audience gave them the most prolonged and enthusiastic ovation of the night. They looked so convincingly in love during the duet...and after the show, while walking around the lobby holding hands :wub: . Wu was my leading lady of the night, all delicacy, style and technique purity. After that we had a piece called "Chasing"-(Vitamin String Quartet/Amanda Tae), a short cute thing danced by everybody's favorite, charismatic Jeremy Cox plus Alex Wong. They did it in street clothes, and it involved lots of running and playing around the stage like two kids. I liked it. Afterwards we had "Folly"-(Randy Newman/Sara Esty), a happy 50's dancing inspired piece, in which Jeannette Delgado was, as usual, all radiant smiles and strong technique-(wow, this girl is really something , as energetic as she can be !). She danced with Peter Doll. After that they showed something called "Us, We're not"-(Nine Inch Nails/Mikhail Nikitine), a modern work which i didn't care too much about. I think the only thing i liked about it was the costume's choice, sexy black outfits worn by Bradley Dunlap, Katie Gibson and Deanna Seay.

And then the first Intermission.

To be continued...

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Cristian, I was there on Friday night -- and loved it too.

Although there were a couple of principals and soloists, most of the dancers were very young. A few -- Peter Doll, for instance, dancing a delightful jive duet with the astonishing Jeanette Delgado -- are still student apprentices.

My favorite dancing was the Cox-Wong piece, "Chasing." They move so fast, so musically, so naturally. You don't see the links and you are amazed at the apparent lack of preparation for astonishing turns, jumps, twists, and about-faces. Toshiro Abbley, who choreographed another light-hearted, witty duet -- "Street Bumz" -- just finished his first year in the corps. His partner, Bradley Dunlap, is an apprentice. The moves were balletic and contemporary, but I kept thinking of 50s film dancers like Donald O'Connor. Maybe Tommy Tune, later on. Really delightful.

Principal dancer Deanna Seay's extended dramatic solo -- Heretic -- was an example of mature artistry turning an unoriginal concept and routine choreography into something genuinely moving. Dressed in kind of 16th century dress from which the front panel and other portions had apparently been torn away, Seay danced in the prison of rectangular box of light surrounded by darkness. At one point she was symbolically stoned by hands that materialized from the side curtains on both sides of the stage. The intensity and concentration of the performance make me hope that she will be one of those doing the Balanchine Swan Lake Act II next season. The ballet was by Marc Spielberger. Unlike most much beginner choreography, it had a vision, a situation, and a unifying aesthetic. I'd like to see more from Mr. Spielberger.

I'm afriad that I had a different take on the Haiyan Wu/ Yang Zou Swan Lake pdd earlier in the program. Wu's performance seemed over-prepared. Each gesture seems to have been worked on and then stiched into place: the little beats of the foot, a slight pecking motion of the head, a facial expression that seemed at times more appropriate to someone experiencing the Beatific Vision. This Odette was contructed from the outside, compiled from innumerable separate parts. It did not cohere for me -- nor did it convince or move me.

Wu's a lovely, fragile, flexible dancer, primarily a Romantic in her ballet personality. She can, however, be bland and lacking in dynamics and complexity if left on her own. Alas, the lack of serious classical coaching and development at Miami City means that she is, all too often, working pretty much on her own. She needs attention, nurturing, and develoment.

Mary Carmen Catoya also suffers as a result of this, I think. She's a strong technician who sometimes becomes incandescent with the right (and properly trained) partner -- as in Jewels last season with Rolando Sarabia. I saw her in Corsaire pas de deux with a young dancer from Ukraine, Zherlin Ndudi, who is obviously talented but needs a great deal of development and nurturing. He has the beginning of the steps, but not yet the skilll to link them and turn them into a seamless performance. I'm glad they did it, but Catoya deserves better from her company -- as does Ndudi.

This lack of support for traditional classsical dancing is not a small thing. The MCB dancers' enormous facility for Balanchine may actually be a handicap when it comes to Petipa. MCB's unconvincing Aurora's Wedding this past season showed that you can't just put a lot of talented dancers on stage and hope that they will pull everything together. What you get is another version of pasting things on from the outside. MCB's full-length Don Q being revived next season. I hope MCB brings in some people who understand the style and can help the dancers channel their technique -- and their very interesting personalities -- into making them the kind of classical dancers they are capable of being.

Some positive highlights of the evening:

-- A delightful ensemble piece by soloist Marc Spielberger, Tissue 1, 2, and 3, to music by Philip Glass. It was perfect for the Tricia Albertson and Jeremy Cox, well supported by 4 women and 4 men.

-- Michael Breedon in the El Capitan variation from Stars and Stripes.

-- The sweet dancing of Elizabeth Keller and Neil Marshall, and Jeanette Delgado and Chaz Meszaros, in Igor Burlak's "De mois a vous, "elegant and courtly.

-- Lots of joyful and sexy Afro-Cuban movement in Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez's del Movimiento al Ritmo.. 3 men: Garcia-Rodriguez, the ubiquitous Cox, and Rolando Sarbia. Garcia-Rodgriguez is beyond magnificent in this kind of work. Sarabia seemed strangely underpowered and uninvolved. Cox --cast as the non-Latin who keeps up quite well indeed -- demonstrates once more that he can do just about anything. The 3 women: Jeanette Delgado, Kristin D'addario, and apprentice Christie Sciturro had less to do -- this was a ballet about men having fun -- but did it very well indeed.

-- Callie Manning as the older, more experienced and classy lady in Satterfield's piece. Also: her rich, wonderful brownies, served in the lobby during intermission

-- An exhibit of ballet photography by dancer Alexandre Dufaur. He's done a wonderful series of shots of ladies of the company promenading, jumping, and posing in various South Beach locations. In several, they're captured in joyful mid-air leaps, most dramatically on what appears to be Lincoln Road. My own favorite, a black-and-white shot of the ladies lined up and striding crossing the street on pointe.

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It would be nice if other companies would do this.
I agree. I wonder what other companies do something similar.

I recall that Ballet Florida once ended its season with an excellent choreographic workshop called "Step Ahead." That ended a few seasons ago.

The MCB program states:

[W]e do everything from the advertising and fundraising to the choreography and dancing. ... Every year sign-up sheet is posted on the bulletin board, and those who are interested sign up. At that early point, it is impossible to know what the program will showcase. However, as the performances draw close, the inspiring ideas transform into choreography reflecting the dancer's styles, personalities and opinions. The initial list of dancers becomes a list of works to be performed, and eventually, the order of pieces is determined by the amount of time people need to change into their costumes ...

The participating dancers work for about 3 weeks, with rehearsals "running continuously for seven hours a day as we work to incorporate new movements into our personal repertories."

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